Lithium Battery Timeline

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I’ve read The The Powerhouse and Bottled Lightning recently, and am trying to make sense of the timeline here. Via this site, I found a workable and fairly complete timeline of battery history with a good focus on lithium recent history.  It does seem like it needs a little filling in of details, especially from 2006 and on, but that’s a task for another day.   Here’s my edit of it:

  • 1902: Thomas Edison announces the development of an iron-nickel battery.
  • 1908: Thomas Edison improves the performance of the iron-nickel battery by adding lithium hydroxide to the electrolyte.
  • 1941: Silver oxide- Zinc (Mercury free) primary cells developed by French professor Henri André using cellophane as a semi permeable membrane separator which impeded the formation of dendrites which caused short circuits. Mike Corbin set the Land Speed Record with Yardley Silver-Zinc batteries in 1974.
  • 1967: Researchers at the Ford Motor Co. develop a radically different technology for batteries. It involves liquid electrodes separated by a ceramic electrolyte. The electrodes are sodium and sulfur held at a temperature of 300°C (572°F). The electrolyte was aluminum oxide (alumina). This sparked research into the field of ion transport.
  • 1972: A conference was held in Italy of people interested in applying the new discoveries in ion transport to creating batteries and fuel cells.
  • c. 1972: The Exxon Corporation decided to seek new field to replace petroleum at it main focus. It did this by creating a division called Exxon Enterprises to fund basic research. Exxon Enterprises then set up Exxon Research and Engineering to hire the brightest scientist available to do research on such things as high temperature superconductivity. During this research it was found that Tantalum Disulfide injected with Potassium had potential for a new type of battery. This led to substituting Titanium for Tantalum and Lithium for Potassium. The titanium lithium combination had the potential for creating a battery with a storage capacity of 480 watts-hours per kilogram, approximately 0.5 kilowatt-hrs/kg. This research was carried out by a group led by a scientist from Oxford University named Michael Stanley Whittingham.
  • 1976: Exxon Research and Engineering announced the LiTiS2 (lithium-titanium disulfide) battery. Lithium perchlorate was used as the electrolyte, but the positive electrode was aluminum rather than metallic lithium.
  • 1978: An American physicist working at Oxford University, John Goodenough, undertook a program of research in battery technology concerning combinations of lithium and metal oxides. He had previously studied lithium nickel oxides. The metals the research involved were chromium, cobalt and nickel. Later he moved to the University of Texas at Austin and continued this program and investigating the possibility of using iron as the metal.
    Previous the rechargeable battery technology involved creating batteries which were fully charged. Goodenough and his researchers developed the simpler technology in which the batteries were created uncharged.
  • 1979: General Motors announced its Electovette, a vehicle powered by a new type of battery, the zinc-nickel oxide battery. It had a 100 mile range for speeds less than 50 miles per hour.
  • 1980: John Goodenough announced the successful development of the lithium-cobalt oxide battery. Rachid Yazami of Morocco discovers a proocess that led to the lithium-graphite anode required for the commercialization of the lithium ion battery..
  • 1982: Stanford Ovshinsky develops a battery based upon nickel and metal hydrides. The positive electrode is a foam made from nickel and the negative electrode is composed of the hydroxides of eight or nine metals. The electrolyte is a water solution of potassium hydroxide.
  • 1985: After several years of work Akira Yoshino of the Asahi Kasei Corporation in Japan created the protopetyep lithium ion battery and a paternt for it was granted.
  • 1986: The price of petroleum fell drastically reducing the incentive for finding an alternate technology for vehicular travel. The U.S. Federal Government drastically reduced its funding of basic research during the Reagan Administration. As a result it was only the universities and companies outside of the U.S. that continued to do basic research and development in battery technology.
  • 1987: In the early 1980’s Sony of Japan had entered into an agreement with Eveready of the U.S. to develop a mass market rechargeable lithium battery. The parent company of Eveready, Union Carbide, was in deep trouble concerning the disaster of its plant in Bhopal, India and sold off Eveready. Sony was able to buy out the joint venture with Eveready and in 1984 announced that it would be able to manufacture a rechargeable lithium battery. It was based upon lithium cobalt oxide with a carbon electrode. This new technology was called lithium ion to distinguish it from other problematic lithium based batteries. The voltage of this product was 3.6 volts. Cell phones need 7 volts for their radio frequency power amplifiers which broadcast their signals. The nickel-cadmium battery had a voltage of only 1.2 volts so six had to be connected in series. Sony’s lithium ion battery only required two in series. The lithium ion battery could go through hundreds of charge-discharge cycles. Furthermore the lithium ion battery did not suffer from the memory effect of nickel-cadmium and nickel-metal-hydride batteries which lose energy capacity from being recharged before they are completely run down.
  • 1988: A company in British Columbia, Canada marketed a revised version of its rechargeable lithium battery. It was based upon lithium-molybdenum and hence the company was called Moli. It turned out that this technology had a problem with some of the batteries catching on fire. Since they were used in cell phones and laptops this was an unacceptable risk.
  • 1990: Michael Davis, Assistant Secretary of the Department of Energy (DOE), proposed that the automobile companies of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler form a consortium to develop a superior battery suitable for powering an automobile. This was analogous to the consortiums created in Japan for technology development sponsored by the Japanese government. The DOE would contribute research funds and the consortium could secure patents for the technology developed. Chrysler dropped out early and GM and Ford could not agree on the relative value of the technology they had already developed so nothing came of the proposal.
  • 1993: A researcher working with John Goodenough at UT-Austin creates lithium ferrous phosphate LiFePO4 and finds it has some possibility as the basis for a new battery technology. LiFePO4 is almost always called lithium iron phosphate.
  • 1993: Stanford Ovshinsky, an independent inventor, demonstrates a Chrysler minivan powered by his nickel metal hydride battery pack.
  • 1994: Motorola marketed its MicroTAC Elite cell phone using a lithium ion battery. The user could talk for 45 minutes from a fully charged battery.
  • 1996: Michael Armand, a scientist working with Hydro-Québec, secures the legal rights to lithium iron phosphate from John Goodenough group at UT-Austin for his employer.
  • 2001:A professor from M.I.T., Yet-Ming Chiang and three associates founded a company named A123 Systems in Boston.
  • 2003: Yet-Ming Chiang’s group at A123 Systems publish an article that purports to have achieved extraordinarily high performance from lithium iron phosphate through the technique of doping, i.e., adding small amounts of other elements to the crystalline structure of a material. Other scientists disputed the assertion that the results were due to doping. Instead they believed they were due to the accidental addition of carbon to lithium iron phosphate.
  • 2009: The Obama Administration funded James Greenberger of the National Alliance for Advanced Technology Batteries for $2 in the Stimulus Package.
  • 2012: A123 files for bankruptcy. The Obama administration had given A123 $249 million. A123 was subsequently sold to the Chinese conglomerate Wanxiang Group for $257 million.
  • 2014: The Charles Stark Draper Prize for Engineering is awarded to John B. Goodenough, Yoshio Nishi, Rachid Yazami and Akira Yoshino for their development of the lithium battery. This prize is one of the two top prizes in engineering; in effect it is the Nobel prize in engineering. The recipients share a $500,000 award.

Also, this detailed information and dating on the Lithium-ion Wikipedia page:

Positive Electrode:

Technology Company Target application Date Benefit
Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide (“NMC”, LiNixMnyCozO2) Imara Corporation, Nissan Motor,[69][70] Microvast Inc. 2008 density, output, safety
Lithium Manganese Oxide (“LMO”, LiMn2O4) LG Chem,[71] NEC, Samsung,[29] Hitachi,[72] Nissan/AESC,[73] EnerDel[74] Hybrid electric vehicle, cell phone, laptop 1996 durability, cost
Lithium Iron Phosphate (“LFP”, LiFePO4) University of Texas/Hydro-Québec,[75] Phostech Lithium Inc., Valence Technology, A123Systems/MIT[76][77] Segway Personal Transporter, power tools, aviation products, automotive hybrid systems, PHEV conversions 1996 moderate density (2 A·h outputs 70 amperes) operating temperature >60 °C (140 °F)

Negative electrode:

Technology Density Durability Company Target application Date Comments
Graphite The dominant negative electrode material used in lithium ion batteries. 1991 Low cost and good energy density.
Lithium Titanate (“LTO”, Li4Ti5O12) 9,000 Toshiba, Altairnano automotive (Phoenix Motorcars), electrical grid (PJM Interconnection Regional Transmission Organization control area,[79] United States Department of Defense[80]), bus (Proterra) 2008 output, charging time, durability (safety, operating temperature −50–70 °C (−58–158 °F))[81]
Hard Carbon Energ2[82] Consumer electronics 2013 greater storage capacity
Tin/Cobalt Alloy Sony Consumer electronics (Sony Nexelion battery) 2005 Larger capacity than a cell with graphite (3.5Ah 18650-type battery)
Silicon/Carbon Volumetric: 580 W·h/l Amprius[83] Smartphones, providing 1850 mA·h capacity 2013 Uses silicon and other electrochemicals. Energy density


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